Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch): COMPLETED!

Petition to have Roy in the game incoming.

You may have seen me enthuse about a game called HYRULE WARRIORS in the past. Indeed, it’s so good that it usually needs to be written in capitals. It’s one of the best games ever made, and between the Wii U and 3DS versions, I’ve devoted over 300, probably nearer 500 hours to the cause.

Imagine that game then, only swapping out the Zeldaverse for Fire Emblem.

Ta-da! It’s Fire Emblem Warriors. And boy is it the same as HYRULE WARRIORS. You hammer the buttons. You take over forts. You get weapon drops, unlock better defence and faster gauge replenishment. You control several different heroes, swapping between them as necessary. It’s all very familiar. In fact, even some of the levels seem to have borrowed liberally from the Zelda title. I mean, the World Tree bears no resemblance to the Deku Tree and is an entirely different prospect, y’honour.

But of course there are differences. Firstly, there are a whole suite of characters I’ve never heard of. Marth, sure, but then that’s from Super Smash Bros. Chrom I recognise. Tiki, but from Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Yes, I have played Fire Emblem games before but the only guy I remember is Roy and he’s not even in this. I was a little concerned getting into the game that I’d not know anyone, but it doesn’t actually matter.

Also different is the lack of Giant Monsters. Dealing with those was a core part of HYRULE WARRIORS, and – final boss aside – Fire Emblem Warriors ain’t got any. It’s a shame, but again, doesn’t really matter.

Characters can now team up, allowing you to use one as a support attacker or (if they’re controllable) can be “carried” around in case their weapon is stronger against a particular foe than your main character. You see, this game follows the Sword/Axe/Lance strength triangle of the main Fire Emblem series, so if you have a sword, bringing an axe-wielder with you can help. In fact, I generally paired Lianna (my “main”) with Lissa where possible for this purpose.

There’s more in the way of tactics here too, although it’s mainly limited to telling your allies where to go on the map and what to do. You could do this to an extent on HYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS on the 3DS, but it’s more important here as your AI chums have no I, A or otherwise. They wander off into danger, then cry they’ve made a terrible mistake, so I have to save them and guide them away. Only to have them return. Idiots. One of the bosses is invulnerable until you’ve taken over several forts, and yet all my allies kept running over to him only to get slaughtered. Babysitting wasn’t on the box blurb.

Other than those, it’s the same game as before. It’s not quite as good, but then very little is. I’ve completed the Story mode, which was about 14 hours long, but naturally there’s a massive History (like HW’s Adventure) mode that is where the bulk of the game actually is. I expect I’ll be playing this for a long time.

At least until the Switch version of HYRULE WARRIORS comes out, anyway.

 

Blaster Master Zero (Switch): COMPLETED!

Master of Blasting

You know my post from a couple of days ago where I said I was going to concentrate on a couple of games from the Christmas Game Pile? Well, I ignored that and started – and completed – Blaster Master Zero instead.

I’d previously played the demo and quite enjoyed it, but not enough to actually buy it. However, I later learned two important things about it:

  1. It was made by the same people as Mighty Gunvolt Burst
  2. It’s a Metroidvania

So that was me sold, and as it was cheap recently, it was purchased. And it’s excellent.

You navigate your surprisingly nimble jumping tank around various areas, which in true Metroidvania style have sections you can’t reach until upgrades are found. Sometimes, you have to hop out and proceed on foot, often entering rooms where the action becomes more overhead. You can run around the main levels without your tank too, but you’re hopelessly underpowered and even a pretty short drop kills you instantly.

There are loads of bosses to contend with, most of them in these on foot areas, although they’re all very easy. Even more so once I noticed you could change your weapon style in a Mega Man sort of way. Ice baddies are no match for your flamethrower, and bosses that consist of many parts (or waves of smaller baddies) can be damaged all together with a spark attack.

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Poorly tying it all together is a crazy plot involving an android, a frog and a load of mutants, but that’s not really important. What is important, is how much fun it is upgrading your tank, reaching new parts of old levels, playing Colour In The Map, and simply exploring. I’ve beaten the end boss, but I suspect there’s more to do here since there are bits of the map as yet unvisited, a number of caves that were too dark to see in (so I left them), and the ending wasn’t as positive as perhaps it could have been.

Currently Playing, January 2017

Not Your Usual Lazy Catchup Post

As an alternative to a catchup post, here’s a catchup post. Only it’s more to declutter my game playing mind after a flurry of new games obtained over the Jesus Birthday Period. Got that? Right.

So for Christmas I got four Switch games – Splatoon 2 (which I’ve covered already), Super Bomberman R, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. Because my wife is the most excellent of wives. I also got a free copy of The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game (also for the Switch) just before Christmas thanks to some supermarket loyalty points.

In addition, I got quite a bit of eShop credit, and spent a bit of that on Gorogoa (also covered) and a game I’ve had my eye on a lot, Blaster Master Zero. I also accidentally bought the Ghostbusters and Lego Batman story packs for Lego Dimensions.

Oh, and because I had some Steam credit and because Cool Ghosts made me want them, I’ve picked up Passpartout: The Starving Artist and The Norwood Suite. Like most games they may sit unplayed until I buy the Switch version in the future instead. Ho ho.

Mainly, I’ve played Splatoon 2. I completed single player, and have reached Level 4 online.

With my daughter I’ve played quite a few matches of Super Bomberman R and I’m pleased to reveal that whatever was “wrong” with it at launch has now been fixed. Aside from the graphical style (which has never been good since they stopped using pixels), it’s Bomberman. And Bomberman is great.

I’m not actually sure I remember what the issues everyone had with the  game back when it came out now, but I’m not seeing anything now. It’s fun!

Once I finished Splatoon, I moved onto (again with my daughter) The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game which as well as having the most ridiculous game name ever, is actually a little different to other Lego games. You have lots of fighting moves at your disposal, and instead of red bricks you have XP to obtain that levels you up giving you “powers” to unlock in a sort of skill tree. It’s early days yet (we’ve only done the first few levels), but I’m liking it a lot so far.

And finally, I’ve played a bit of Passpartout: The Starving Artist. Yes, I know I said it’d probably sit unplayed – and it might yet – but it’s quirky and silly and I love making crap art and selling it for peanuts. I mean look:

And of course, I played some more Stardew Valley, but as I posted the other day, I consider that “completed”.

Other than that, I got given a few games by @IndieGamerChick as part of #indiexmas. First up, was a game called Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. It’s by the same team as You Have to Win the Game, which I coincidentally, played, enjoyed and completed recently. This game is a lot like Zelda II and Castlevania II, and has a familiar NES feeling to it. It’s pretty good so far.

Also from her was Kid Tripp for the Switch. Yep, she (and the devs, Four Horses) gave away a Switch game! It’s a simple “forced runner”, but with lovely blown-up pixel graphics. There’s a nice rhythm to each level, albeit not a “musical” rhythm like, say, Bit Trip Runner, and it plays well. It’s just so very, very hard.

Finally, another game (also from Four Horses) is Digger Dan DX for the 3DS, a homage to Boulderdash. Judging from the number of levels, it’s huge! I’m enjoying it so far.

And that… is everything. I think! Phew, eh? For now, I’m going to try and slim this lot down to a couple of titles just to make it manageable. Ninjago will be one, and for the moment at least, Passpartout will be the other. Find out soon if I actually do this or not!

Stardew Valley (Switch): COMPLETED!

It grows on you.

In theory, Stardew Valley could go on forever. However, it gets to a stage where there’s very little left to achieve and so, fun aside, no point in carrying on. I’m not quite where I would want to stop playing just yet, but I do feel that after 120 hours (count ’em) it’s finished.

I’ve achieved most of the achievements, unlocked Qi’s casino, shipped every item, got married (to Emily), finished the Community Centre, broken into the witch’s house for the wizard, unlocked the sewer, reached the bottom of the mine, made (in total) over 4 million gold, reached level 10 in all the stats, and maximised my relationship with almost everyone 1.

So yeah, it’s completed.

Until they release the two player mode update, and then I’m back in, I expect.

Notes:

  1. bar Elliot and Sebastian – Elliot won’t talk to me, Sebastian is a misery

Splatoon 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Why Am I Ink

I am fully aware that the main point of Splatoon 2 is the online component. In fact, I’m sure – like I was with the first game – that the single player mode exists simply because Nintendo has a “Single Player Mode” box that needs ticking somewhere.

But – again, like the first game – the single player mode is excellent and sorely overlooked by so many. In Splatoon 2 it also acts as a fantastic tutorial for the different weapons in the main, er, online game.

It plays out across five themed worlds, with each containing 6 or so levels. They’re inventive platforming, shooting, or puzzle based challenges – up there with 3D Mario games in many respects. A number of types of enemies, giant rolling balls, car wash rollers of ink, invisible platforms, hidden items – it has it all. At the end of each world there’s a big boss battle.

Generally, I found the levels themselves more difficult than those in the original Splatoon, but the bosses were far, far easier. Which is good, actually – some were too hard before.

So it’s short, it’s fun, and it could quite easily exist as a game in its own right. But now, I think I should play online a bit.

 

Gorogoa (Switch): COMPLETED!

How d’you like them apples?

It’s pretty hard to describe Gorogoa. When I originally read a review, it sounded like a cross between The Witness and Yellow, both games I liked so it prompted me to buy it.

But it isn’t like those. Or it sort of is. Like The Witness, there are environments to manipulate to solve depth-busting puzzles. Shapes to match up, find, or merge. Sometimes you can remove a layer of a vista to create a second scene to work with, and it’s here it very much diverges from The Witness.

Like Yellow, it’s not clear how you achieve your goal, but there’s a puzzle to each chapter solved with slightly guided tapping. Beyond that, it’s not Yellow any more either.

The screenshots don’t explain or do it justice, and it’s not about when everything is in motion either. Perhaps an early example will help? OK, so there’s a bit where you have two doors, one diagonal from the other. They’re shut, and a boy needs to go in the lower one to reach the upper one.

In another scene, there’s a pair of doors in a similar layout with open doors and steps joining them. If you overlay these doors over the first set of doors, the scenes “flatten”, like layers in Photoshop, creating a way forward.

But that’s just the start. There are puzzles within puzzles within puzzles. Sometimes two vistas have separate puzzles that when solved create a solution to a joint puzzle. Which is part of another puzzle. It’s puzzles all the way down.

And it made me feel very clever. And there’s a lot to be said for games that do that.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

Just say no.

That was hell.

I’ve never been so bored, so annoyed, so disappointed with a Mario game. The first 250 moons were great. The next 250, not so much. The NEXT 250? rubbish. The final 100 made Mario Odyssey one of the worst games ever made.

The skipping rope moon. It’s pure luck. There’s no way to time it because the rope moves too fast after around 50 jumps and you can’t jump fast enough to keep up.

The volleyball moon. It takes forever and is also down to luck. If the ball goes too far away from you and Cappy doesn’t aim properly, you lose.

But those are just difficult, frustrating, try and try again moons. No, the real killer is the hundred or so moons you have to buy in order to make the total up to 999. To do this you literally have to just collect coins. 10,000 coins. Which takes hours.

And for what? I’ll tell you what: a big hat and some rubbish fireworks.

Stupid game.

Things I’ve Been Playing Recently

Lazy roundup incoming.

I’m aware I’ve not posted in a while, so just a brief catchup.

Stardew Valley (Switch)

Just reaching the end of Winter, Year 3, and although I’m ready to wed the lovely but crazy Emily, there’s been no rain for the entire season so I can’t see the guy on the beach and buy the necessary amulet. I’ve been making friends with everyone while I wait instead. I’ve also managed to complete Qi’s increasingly more bizarre requests and now have access to the casino. I’ve not won much though.

I think I’m nearly done with the game. Once I’m married I’ll consider retiring, unless it opens up more gameplay stuff. I’m almost 110 hours in and there are other games that need playing.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

800-odd moons now. I’ve completed The Darker Side (but not The Dark Side), and collecting the remaining moons is tedious beyond belief. It’s the least fun Mario game in ages now. But I feel I must get them all, so…

Million Onion Hotel (iOS)

I talked about this for a bit on the ugvm Podcast (which you really should listen to). It’s a 5×5 grid, screen tapping puzzle game that I paid real actual money for and it’s madness. And too hard. I reached the third boss but that’s as far as I’ve managed so far.

Picross S (Switch)

Not very much though. Just the odd puzzle every now and then. That’s not knocking it – it’s how I want to play it!

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a hard one. Well, not hard in that way (the game is easy – very easy), but hard in how I feel about it.

Unlike pretty much every Mario game ever, Super Mario Odyssey didn’t instantly grab me. Perhaps it was the terrible looking first “world”. Maybe it was the stark art style changes between worlds. I don’t know. Definitely, I started enjoying it in my first hour – but other games in the series I was hooked from the second the game started.

Now I’ve completed it, insofar as beaten Bowser and reached the credits, I can look back and see Odyssey is excellent. But not perfect. And certainly not the best Mario game. I’m feeling a lot like I did when I played Breath of the Wild, actually.

There’s just something missing. A spark of something. Something which Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine had which is missing here. Yes, I’m saying Super Mario Sunshine is better than Super Mario Odyssey. Super Mario 3D World is too. And so is New Super Mario Bros U, but 2D Mario games are a different beast.

On paper, it’s all there. Blue skies, great platforming, throwback references, varied levels, secrets, post-credits content, the very best controls – the lot. In my hands, it’s a bit flat, a bit off, a bit… wrong. But I can’t put my finger on it.

Remembering the few days I’ve been playing it, very few parts of the game stand out in the way I can fondly reminisce about the clock or the flying carpet or the Koopa race or the penguins or the wing hat or any one of a thousand other things from Mario 64. I know I’ve not played it as much as that game, but aside from the (spoiler) boss in the ruined castle, there hasn’t been anything that wowed me.

It’s probably me.

And it’s so easy. Really, really easy. Again, I’m aware the challenge of Mario games is mainly to get 100% and the straightforward route to the boss is not the hardest path, but I’ve picked up around half of the moons on each level so far and just one of them caused multiple deaths. It’s the easiest Mario game by a long way.

All that said, and I’m sure most people will disagree with my comments, but all that said, it’s a great game. One of the best. It really is. Nothing I can say can detract from that. I think I was just expecting Mario Odyssey to be a contender for the Best Game Ever Made, and in my eyes it isn’t even top 5 Best Mario Games (yet, at least). But that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be.

Stardew Valley (Switch)

Down on the Farm

Sometimes, I regret buying Stardew Valley. There are many reasons why I might do this, from the fact I already own it (unplayed) on Steam to it being a long time since I got into a Harvest Moon game (which Stardew Valley ostensibly is). The main one? Time.

In the 14 days I have owned Stardew Valley, I have somehow racked up 45 hours of play. That’s over three hours a day. That sort of commitment isn’t sustainable, not least with Super Mario Odyssey due to materialise in a week’s time. Already, Fire Emblem Warriors, effectively best game ever candidate Hyrule Warriors in alternative trousers and nailed near the top of my Must Own list has evaporated. I’ve not even bothered to order it. Stardew Valley has pwned me.

How has it done this? Somehow, the tedium of the game is like heroin. Each in-game day is around 15 minutes long and mainly consists of these “fun” farm-based tasks: Harvest crops, plant seeds, water everything, collect eggs, milk cows, make mayonnaise and cheese, check my crab pots, recycle rubbish, check on mushroom farm, sell produce, scythe grass to make hay, chop down trees, wear high heels, suspenders and a bra. Then the next day, do it all again.

If I finish my main chores early enough, like if it rains so I don’t need to water anything, or I’ve nothing to harvest, I might do some tedious fishing. Or venture into the mines and do some tedious mining. Perhaps I might go and tediously gather some wild flowers, or perform some tedious fetch quests. Or I might tediously top up my stocks of iron or gold ore, or tediously make some more chests to tediously store my crap in. There’s a chance I’ll then tediously need to manage my chest inventories and ensure I’ve put all the same type of item in specific chests because sure – the game is tedious already why not OCD it up a notch and make it even more tedious? Repeat all this ad tedium.

If I’m unlucky, there’ll be a major village event which encroaches on my embedded timetable of tedium. I’ll have to give up a whole afternoon to talk to all the other residents about sodding easter eggs or jellyfish or god knows what when all I really want to do is plough through my daily checklist so I can spare the time to attempt another five level mine descent. And then apparently you can woo other folk and become their friends? Who the hell has time for that?

And don’t get me started on the horror of having to upgrade your tools. I can’t do without my watering can for two whole days! My crops will die, Clint. They’ll die. And it’ll be your fault because you’re a terrible blacksmith and anyway, Clint, Emily will never be interested in you with your sweat and awful facial hair and you can’t even man up and talk to her. Clint you loser.

The whole game is horrendous. Stardew Valley is no relaxing farm simulator, as you perhaps might suspect from a Harvest Moon clone. No, this is repetitive slave labour with time-based stress. Don’t have time to water everything? They die. Don’t time your crops to grow before the end of the season? They die. Forget it’s gone midnight and you’re not home yet? You collapse and Linus the Creepy Hobo robs you blind (and probably does worse while you’re unconscious). Stress! And the constant worry that anything you produce might be needed at some point in another season or by a villager so you can’t sell anything you don’t have multiples of. And what if I cut down too much grass and it doesn’t grow back and I haven’t enough hay over the winter and Buttercup dies? More stress.

Somehow, I’ve endured 45 hours of this. I’ve completed my first Stardew Valley year, and am about to hit my second summer. My farm consists of a badly constructed L-shaped “planting area”, a silo for hay, a barn with two cows and a coop with three chickens and a duck. I’ve a mushroom cave, trees producing various mucuses (mucii?), beehives, lightning rods, and large areas of wild grass for hay harvesting. My house has beer, pickle, cheese and mayonnaise making facilities and is rammed full of colour-coded chests. I’ve many planned goals for buildings and produce, and I hope to reach the bottom of the mine soon. I have the minecarts up and running, and have renovated three rooms in the Community Centre. I seem to be making progress, but I still feel like I’m treading water and actually not getting anywhere. Not only that, but I’m getting nowhere on other games too because Stardew Valley is spilling over.

And you know what? I’m loving it.

SteamWorld Dig 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Everything is oresome.

I’m a big fan of the first SteamWorld Dig. I’ve bought and completed it twice, in fact. The “digging genre”, such as it is, has always appealed to me. Ever since playing a demo of Diggers on the Acorn at high school, I’ve been drawn to them – Mr Driller, Miner Dig Deep, and SteamWorld Dig being the headliners.

SteamWorld Dig 2 was a thought-free instant purchase then, but if I’d not bought it the overwhelmingly positive reviews would have made it difficult to resist.

A cursory glance of the game shows little has changed since the first title. You’re a steambot (although not Rusty any more – he’s gone missing), and you have to dig down in a mine. The more you dig, the more you need upgrades to assist. However, after you’ve played it for a bit you realised it’s not just about depth – there’s more to explore here.

Instead of a single shaft, there are a number of separate – albeit linked – areas, each themed. A more powerful axe is less important this time around, with rocket boots and a grappling hook becoming the essential tools for getting around. Larger, more open spaces replace much of cramped mining, but there’s always something, and some reason, to dig.

Smaller rooms, filled with puzzles or navigational challenges, pock the mine and reward you with items that further boost your skills. Cogs can augment your abilities over and above the standard bought upgrades, reducing water use or making your pressure grenades more powerful, for example.

The gameplay is perfect. After every “run”, usually when you’ve found another return tube (which acts as a warp point), you sell your ore and gems, bump your powers up with the money and cogs, then return “just to get to the next tube”. And the next tube. And the next tube. It’s addictive, and soon enough eight hours have passed and I’ve completed the game.

But still there’s more. My completion stats say I’m just 53% done, and Image & Form tell me there’s a whole extra section if I make it to 100. So of course, I’m going to make it to 100%.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

Yes, this again. I’ve now completed it with Sonic and that Idiot Fox together, with all the Chaos Emeralds.

That is all.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

Miles better.

That’s the game completed with Tails and all the Chaos Emeralds now. During the process of doing this I also managed to get all the Gold medals on the Blue Spheres bonus levels.

Which means the only thing I have left is a run through with Sonic and Tails together! Not really looking forward to that. Tails on his own is tolerable, but when he’s following Sonic round he has a tendency to kill you.

Lego City Undercover (Switch)

Chase me.

After 48 hours (that’s about 17 hours less than on the Wii U), my daughter and I have 100%ed it.

It was excellent. Certainly, it crashed quite a bit. And there were the usual bugs and things which meant getting stuck or having to redo levels, but it was a lot of fun, especially now it can be played with two players.

I did wonder if we’d come across the most frustrating of all bugs when we got to 99.9% complete and had nothing left to do. The stats show we had all the red bricks, gold bricks, characters, levels, and vehicles. Thankfully, I realised that helicopters (and the like) aren’t included as vehicles on the main list, and we’d collected but forgotten to buy one. Phew!

Sonic Mania (Switch)

With all the Chaos Emeralds collected, I ran through the rest of the levels and faced the true final boss. Or rather, bosses. One of them appeared to be Big the Cat in power armour.

And I beat them.